Does anyone know a mechanic?


About two miles from my old home there is a service station I often used to go to. I trusted the mechanics, the owner knew me by name, and the prices were competitive when they werenít simply better than everywhere else. Just about every car ownerís dream, a repair shop to be trusted.

I spent thousands of dollars on tires and axles and distributors over the years. I brought my car there, and when we started dating, my wifeís car went there too. For years after I moved some twenty or thirty miles away, I still brought my car to this station when I needed work done. These people earned my business, and my respect, by the way they treated me.

Once, I needed a bulb replaced in a taillight. Another time I experienced a problem with some fuses. What was the charge these items? Nothing. At least not in the start. In the end, for the mechanics to give me these parts it probably cost the owner under ten dollars in expenses. But, the trust and loyalty those little efforts instilled in me brought me back time and again for thousands of dollars in repairs and service.

Both of the mechanics that worked on my car left this station years ago. The travel to that part of the state for repairs had begun to wear thin. But needing work done on a car and not having a clue where to go, I made an appointment to return to the place that had treated me right so many times before. After five hours of looking, the individual taking care of my car couldnít tell me even remotely what was wrong. A recommendation to return to the dealership was heeded, and I went to pick up my car. When I arrived, I was presented with a large bill for the five hours of labor to perform an estimate that I never received.

My parents still live near this service station. And I travel that way once or twice a week to visit them. The culmination of my most recent experiences means I wonít be buying gas there every week for the next ten or so years. I wonít be getting my oil changed, a tune up done or my brakes fixed here again. When you add up all those things, was the lost repeat business I would have brought worth a one-time, fifty-dollar labor charge?

I should tell you that they eventually waived the fee, but the experience still leaves a mark. And Iím certainly not suggesting that a mechanicís time, or any professionalís time, isnít worth compensation. Every detail of any business transaction does not have to favor me. I just want to feel like it does. Perhaps itís an ego thing, but I want to feel Iím being treated fairly.

A few days after my last experience I drove down the street to a place that specializes in doing oil changes. Twenty minutes after I handed over my keys, my car was at the front door of the shop. The oil had been changed. And the washer fluid had been filled. And power steering and brakes fluids had been checked. The windows had been washed and the carpets had all been vacuumed. Maybe they canít fix my exhaust system, but thatís fine right now. At least I know of one remaining ďserviceĒ station.

In the past few weeks, this service station not only changed ownership, but has gone out of business. Gee, I wonder why.


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